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No. 3 Michigan St tops Southern Utah 88-63, aims for No. 1

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EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Cassius Winston sprinted up the sideline, called for the ball and got it to put up a 3-pointer.

Swish.

Winston scored 15 points and missed only one shot beyond the arc, helping the third-ranked Spartans beat Southern Utah 88-63 on Saturday night.

“I was definitely feeling it,” he said. “My teammates did a good job of getting the ball in my hands where I could make shots.”

That’s a good idea this season.

After making just 38 percent of his 3-pointers last season, Winston has connected on 61 percent and almost has as many makes beyond the arc that he did all of last season.

“I’ve put a lot of work into it,” he said. “There’s going to be a lot of attention on other guys. If I can knock down open jumpers like that, it opens the floor up that much more.”

The point guard made 5 of 6 3-point attempts against the Thunderbirds. Over the last six games, the sophomore has connected on 19 of 26 3-pointers.

“He is shooting the lights out,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said.

Winston is often open because many of his teammates can score, too.

“He’s shooting with great confidence and he’s getting it off quick,” Southern Utah coach Todd Simon said. “He’s a game-changer for them when he’s playing like that. There’s not many holes in that lineup.”

Jackson had 13 rebounds and five blocks. Bridges had 11 rebounds and six assists.

The Thunderbirds (5-4) had won three straight. They kept it relatively close at the Breslin Center for a while, trailing by just five points midway through the second half.

Michigan State’s balanced team took control with a 21-7 run to take a 79-60 lead with 4:45 left.

Southern Utah’s Dre Marin, Jacob Calloway and Jadon Cohee scored 12 points apiece and Ivan Madunic added 10 points.

“We’re kind of a budding program, rebuilding this thing,” Simon said. “Our guys played really hard. From a competitive standpoint, I was really proud of the guys.”

BIG PICTURE

Southern Utah: The Thunderbirds can upset a lot of teams if they make 3-pointers like they did at Michigan State, connecting on 11 beyond the arc.

“Our game plan was to get 30 3s up and make 15 of them,” Simon said. “We felt like we could because they’re so aggressive defensively. We passed up some and drove inside the trees and found that was not a good strategy.”

Michigan State: The Spartans may be ranked No. 1 on Monday for the first time in two years. The top-ranked Blue Devils (11-1) lost to Boston College on Saturday, No. 2 Kansas (7-1) lost to Washington on Wednesday and No. 4 Villanova (9-0) is unbeaten going into Sunday’s game against La Salle.

Izzo welcomes the top spot.

“I think this team has to learn how to handle all these things,” he said.

HOMECOMING

Simon had a lot of fans in the stands because he’s from Fowler, Michigan, a small town about 30 miles from Michigan State, and he graduated from Central Michigan in 2003.

“That part of it was a pretty cool experience,” he said.

UP NEXT:

Southern Utah: Plays on Saturday at home against Central Michigan.

Michigan State: Plays Oakland on Saturday in Detroit after Michigan faces Detroit Mercy in Little Caesars Arena.

Elite Class of 2020 point guard to reclassify

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Nico Mannion, a five-star point guard from Arizona, announced on Friday that he will be reclassifying into the Class of 2019.

Mannion was a top 20 player in 2020 but, according to 247 Sports, he will be ranked No. 11 in 2019. The athletic, 6-foot-3 Mannion was long-rumored to be considering a move up a class because of his age. He’ll turn 18 in March of next year, meaning that he’ll arrive on campus the same age as a typical college freshman.

Mannion cut his list to ten schools in June — Duke, Arizona, Villanova, Kansas, USC, UCLA, Oregon, Vanderbilt, Marquette and Utah — but Duke and Arizona appear to be the favorites at this point.

Mannion plays his high school ball for Pinnacle High School in Phoenix and with West Coast Elite on the Under Armour Association circuit. He played for Team USA’s youth ranks, but his mother is Italian and, in June, he was called up to the Italian men’s senior national team, scoring nine points in 29 minutes of a FIBA World Cup Qualifier.

Nebraska to lose junior big man to transfer

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Nebraska’s frontcourt depth took a blow on Thursday as junior big man Jordy Tshimanga informed the program that he will be transferring.

“Jordy called me tonight and asked for his release,” head coach Tim Miles said in a statement that was given to the Lincoln Journal-Star. “The University of Nebraska and our program wish Jordy and his family the best.”

Tshimanga averaged 4.0 points and 4.6 boards in 13 minutes this past season, and a source close to the program told NBC Sports he wasn’t expected to play much more than that this season.

Miles’ has spent the better part of the last two seasons on the hot seat, and this certainly doesn’t make his job easier, but with the talent the Cornhuskers have on their roster, they look like an NCAA tournament team already. They bring back their top four scorers, including former five-star prospect Isaac Copeland and potential first-team all-Big Ten wing James Palmer. With or without Tshimanga, Nebraska has a shot to finish top four in the Big Ten.

North Carolina, UCLA, Michigan State part of Las Vegas event

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LAS VEGAS (AP) — North Carolina, UCLA, Michigan State and Texas will play in an early season basketball tournament in Las Vegas.

The Las Vegas Invitational will include games at campus sites, then the final two rounds on Nov. 22-23 in Las Vegas. North Carolina takes on Texas in one semifinal, and Michigan State faces UCLA in the other.

UNC, UCLA and Michigan State are all top 20 teams in the NBC Sports preseason top 25.

The championship is Nov. 23, and the semifinal losers also play each other that day.

NCAA to study possible effects of widespread legal wagering

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The NCAA plans to study how the expansion of legalized betting could affect college athletics and member schools.

The NCAA announced Thursday it will create a working group of “subject matter experts” to assess areas such as officiating, NCAA rules, federal and state laws, and the use of integrity services. NCAA leadership has already called for federal regulation on sports betting. NCAA rules prohibit sports wagering by athletes and athletic department employees.

The Supreme Court opened the door for states to have legal wagering on sporting events when it struck down a federal ban in May. Schools in some states such as West Virginia, Mississippi and New Jersey are already exploring the possibility of collecting integrity fees in anticipation of legal sports books opening in their states.

“While we certainly respect the Supreme Court’s decision, our position on sports wagering remains,” said Donald Remy, NCAA chief legal officer. “With this new landscape, we must evolve and expand our long-standing efforts to protect both the integrity of competitions and the well-being of student-athletes.”

The NCAA Board of Governors has already suspended the association’s ban on holding championships in states with legalized sports betting, a policy that only affected Nevada.

“Legalized sports gambling across the country is rather new, but the NCAA and its members have committed significant resources over the years to policy, research and education around sports wagering,” said Joni Comstock, senior vice president of championships and alliances. “With student-athlete well-being as the centerpiece, we will continue to build upon these efforts to assist members as they adapt to legalized sports wagering in their states and regions.”

Arizona releases non-conference schedule

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A trip to Maui, a home date against Baylor and trips to UConn and Alabama highlight Arizona’s non-conference schedule, which the school released Thursday, this season.

Despite losing nearly the entirety of last year’s talented-but-troubled group, Sean Miller still scheduled aggressively. The first test will come the week of Thanksgiving in Hawaii at the Maui Invitational. It’s an extremely competitive field with Duke, Auburn, Gonzaga, Iowa State, Illinois, San Diego State and Xavier. The bracket for the event has yet to be released.

The Wildcats travel to Storrs to face UConn in Dan Hurley’s first season on Dec. 2, and then a week later visit Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

The marquee home game will be Saturday, Dec. 16, when Scott Drew and Baylor come to Tucson.

Here’s the full schedule:

Day Date Opponent Location

Sunday Nov. 11 Cal Poly Tucson, Ariz.

Wednesday Nov. 14 UTEP Tucson, Ariz.

Monday Nov. 19 vs. TBA Lahaina, Hawai’i

Tuesday Nov. 20 vs. TBA Lahaina, Hawai’i

Wednesday Nov. 21 vs. TBA Lahaina, Hawai’i

Wednesday Nov. 28 Texas Southern Tucson, Ariz.

Sunday Dec. 2 at UConn Hartford, Conn.

Thursday Dec. 6 Utah Valley Tucson, Ariz.

Sunday Dec. 9 at Alabama Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Saturday Dec. 15 Baylor Tucson, Ariz.

Wednesday Dec. 19 Montana Tucson, Ariz.

Saturday Dec. 22 UC Davis Tucson, Ariz.